Thursday evening and we are sitting half dozing parked up at an Aire in Long. Real name! The sky is blue even if peppered with white clouds and behind me is the click clack noise and the odd ‘putain!’from a bunch of Frenchmen battling out a game of boules. Further back almost as noisy are a huge group of ducks..the collective name for a dozen or more ducks?? The lady has just been round the 6 vans here to collect our 5 euros, the charge for tonight’s spot. Last night was no charge so we can’t complain.
After a good night’s sleep at Montreuil we awoke at 7 as the school bus left to go pick up students. I was out the door by ¼ to 8 and headed directly for the boulangerie for croissants and a baguette. There is nothing quite like the warmth and aroma of a French boulangerie first thing in the morning, it is definitely worth getting out of bed for and John was up and dressed by the time I returned.
Outside may have been dull and dismal looking but we headed out to explore and made our way up a fairly steep but short path to the ramparts of what was a walled town. We found a path that wound its way around the town but with a very steep drop on the outside and no barrier, eek! At regular intervals there were steps or a path back down into town. As we continued our walk we started to meet other walkers and many ‘Bonjours’ were repeated. We walked as far as the Citadel which had been the main entry and also the most vulnerable to attack and therefore the best defended part of Montreuil in the past. A full history can be found online. The Citadel is now the local Youth Hostel! The lower part of the town nearest the Citadel is the old part, we had a wander up and down cobbled streets and into a very flashy Tourist info office for a ‘carte’ of the town.
We finished up back in ‘our square’ Place du General de Gaulle, whose centrepiece is a statue of Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig on horseback surrounded by a fountain. The town was home to the British soldiers in France during the first world war.
Back at the van we reset Satnav for Long, an hour further south. Our route took us through productive farmland but reminders of the battles that raged here are in the very name, the valley of the Somme, so well-known to all of us.
Long itself has a small population and a rather fabulous Chateau and gardens. Other than John having a bike run into the village for essentials (yep, wine and water!) we have strolled along the canal and had a lazy hour sitting outside enjoying sunshine.
Dinner was Spaghetti Carbonara..
The boules game has finished and all is oh so quiet now, even the ducks have settled. Time to close the blinds and start on one of those books we bought.